Fairfax, Va. – Penn State played without suspended guard Tony Carr on Sunday at George Mason. It certainly didn’t slow the Nittany Lions down.
Lamar Stevens scored 23 points and added 12 rebounds for his first career double-double, Mike Watkins added 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Penn State dominated in the post on its way to a 72-54 victory Sunday.
“Coach pushed us harder,” Watkins said. “This was a great team we were going against. Playing against them and playing without Tony, who’s a big factor on our team, we had to pick up the loose ends.”
Carr, who is averaging a team-high 20 points, was suspended for a violation of team rules. Coach Patrick Chambers said the sophomore will return Tuesday for the Nittany Lions (9-3).
Penn State would have been wise to exploit the undersized Patriots (5-7) even with Carr. His absence made the decision to turn to the frontcourt even easier.
Stevens and Watkins combined for 24 points on 11 of 14 shooting in the first half, and Watkins had nine points during an 11-2 spurt that gave Penn State a 20-10 lead. Its edge never fell below eight after that.
Stevens, who had totaled just 14 points in his last two games, created problems both in the post and on the perimeter.
“He was really focused on trying to rebound the basketball, and we saw him be ferocious,” Chambers said. “We went to him early and often and he did some good things for us, some good drives, had a good 15-footer, got himself to the free throw line. He looked for Mike a bunch. I thought he played a quality game on both ends of the floor.”
Penn State owned a 26-8 scoring advantage in the paint in the first half and a 40-26 edge inside for the game.
Sophomore Justin Kier scored a team-high 17 points for George Mason, which committed 15 turnovers and was 0 of 14 from 3-point range. The Patriots have averaged 52.5 points and are 4 of 37 on 3-pointers in their last two games.
“We’re a better team than we’ve shown the last two nights,” George Mason coach Dave Paulsen said. “We know that. This is the same group that put together some pretty good performances against good teams, but we’re in a little bit of a funk right now offensively.”
(At) No. 5 Arizona State 76, Vanderbilt 64: Tra Holder scored 25 points, Shannon Evans II added 15 and No. 5 Arizona State (10-0) overcame a dismal start to beat Vanderbilt. Arizona State was coming off a victory last week over then-No. 2 Kansas that sent the Sun Devils to their highest ranking in 36 years.
Mickey Mitchell provided the Sun Devils a spark off the bench, playing solid defense while grabbing 13 rebounds. Arizona State hit 14 of 28 shots in the second half to remain one of the nation’s four undefeated teams. Saben Lee had 24 points to lead Vanderbilt.
No. 7 North Carolina 78, (at) No. 20 Tennessee 73: Kenny Williams made a 3-pointer to put North Carolina ahead for good with 35 seconds left against Tennessee.
North Carolina (10-1) capitalized on a 9-0 run in the final minute to win for the fifth straight time and ended Thompson-Boling Arena’s hex on defending national champions.
Tennessee (7-2) had won each of the last five times it had hosted a defending national champion, a string that included victories over Connecticut (in January 2012), Florida (February 2007 and February 2008) and Kentucky (February 1999 and February 2013).
Joel Berry II scored 21 points for North Carolina. Williams and Luke Maye added 15 points each.
(At) No. 21 Baylor 118, Savannah State 86: Jo-Lual Acuil had career highs with 31 points and 20 rebounds and Baylor had a 21-0 first-half run to rout Savannah State.
Manu Lecomte added 25 points for Baylor (9-2), King McClure had 19, Nuni Omot 18, and Mark Vital 12. Dexter McClananahan led Savannah State (3-10) with 22 points, and Austin Dasent had 18.
Eastern Michigan 78, (at) Detroit Mercy 76: The Eagles (3-7) outscored the Titans (0-10), 22-11, in the fourth quarter to pull out the narrow win at Calihan Hall and keep Detroit Mercy winless. Micah Robinson scored 19 and Sasha Dailey 18 for Eastern. Anja Marinkovic scored 22 to lead Detroit Mercy.
(At) Duquesne 64, Central Michigan 61: The Chippewas (8-2) let a 13-point halftime lead slip away. Tinara Moore scored 21 and Cassie Breen 14 for Central. Julijana Vojinovic scored 20 to lead Duquesne (10-2).